Mark Woodhouse (Roberson)
Mother (Waka Waka and T.I Mob)
Father (Kunja)
Retired Petty Officer
Royal Australian Navy

Medals
Australian Active Service Medal
International Force East Timor Medal
Afghanistan Medal
Australian Service Medal
Defence Long Service Medal with clasp
Australian Defence Medal
Commander Joint Task Force 663 Commendation

 

I was born in Ingham in Far North Queensland, and when I was a couple of years old, I was taken and placed into Carramar Children’s home in Townsville. From there I was fostered out and raised by my “white parents”. I was raised in what I would consider a bohemian type of lifestyle traveling from place to place up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia from as far South as Sydney to as far north as Tully. I found it rather difficult trying to find any of my ancestors or language groups or mob as I was growing up because I felt that I had nobody to reach out to in order to connect to my Indigenous culture and was “shunned” by those of Indigenous heritage because I had white parents. When I was 11 years old, I took on their family name, Woodhouse, as mine.

After my father had passed away, I joined the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 16 in May 1987.  I chose the Navy as he was in the Royal Navy.  The culture shock was quite significant. Recruit school was certainly an eye opener and I quickly learnt that discipline and I had to be acquainted and rather quickly. I had initially joined as a general duty sailor for a period give two-year service. After my initial two-year service I changed over to Quarter Master Gunner, which, in turn, was changed to a Boatswains Mate.

My last posting in the Australian Defence Force was with the Defence Indigenous Affairs. It was here that I was able to connect with my Indigenous culture and identify relatives throughout Queensland and the Torres Strait islands. I really enjoyed contributing to the defence initiatives with recruitment of indigenous Australians into the Australian Defence Force to create a community that is not only diverse but stronger through connection to indigenous communities via the Australian Defence Force.

During this time, I met and had the special privilege to meet and work with a long time Indigenous Mentor, Uncle Don Bowie who is an Army W01 Medic who is still serving in the Army reserves after 35 years Regular Service. I now see a larger community of Indigenous Australians in the Defence Force all across Australia in all three services and the Australian Public Service.This could only mean that a mob are now not only aware that they can join the Australian Defence Force but be able to contribute personally and through community to the protection of Australian waters and borders and not only to serve under the Australian flag, The Aboriginal flag and or the Torres Strait Islander flag.

Upon retirement I had completed over 20 years-service and had achieved the rank of Petty Officer Boatswain. I am proud to have served under the Australian flag and represented my mob under our Indigenous flags as did our Indigenous ancestors, from Australia’s first conflict during the three-year Boer War in South Africa.

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